Yanks receive 'good news' on Soto's test results

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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees avoided a season-changing setback Friday when testing on superstar Juan Soto’s left forearm revealed just inflammation and no structural damage.

Manager Aaron Boone said Soto, who also had testing done on his left elbow, will avoid the injured list and is “day to day.” Soto wasn’t in the Yankees’ lineup for Friday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Boone said he could be available off the bench.

“Good news, obviously,” Boone said. “Waiting on that, on those results, I think in the grand scheme of things we got some good news.”

Soto left Thursday’s win over the Minnesota Twins during a 56-minute rain delay with what the Yankees termed “forearm tightness.” Soto had reached base safely in each of his three plate appearances with two walks before being removed.

Soto later said he had been dealing with the discomfort for over a week, but it didn’t affect him when he threw a baseball or swung a bat.

“We all decided to not start getting warmed up again after an hour sitting down here,” Soto told reporters after Thursday’s game. “We didn’t want to risk anything like that. So we just decided to stop it.”

On Friday, Boone said Soto won’t need an injection, just medicine to treat the inflammation. The manager said he didn’t know if Soto will wait until he is symptom-free before returning to the lineup or if he’ll play through some discomfort. He said having Soto play games as the designated hitter — something he hasn’t done yet this season — is possibile.

Soto, 26, started each of the Yankees’ first 64 games in right field this season. The durability and production have produced an MVP-caliber season as he approaches free agency this winter. The four-time All-Star is slashing .318/.424/603 with 17 home runs and 46 walks to 48 strikeouts. He began Friday tied with teammate Aaron Judge in fWAR (4.1) while leading the American League in batting average and on-base percentage.

Losing Soto for a prolonged period would’ve been debilitating for an offense that has helped fuel MLB’s best record behind him and Judge, two top AL MVP candidates this season.

They avoided the worst Friday.

“There might have been some anxious moments in there,” Boone said. “But … also probably a little optimism there, too, because he’s been playing and been playing really well and has been able to play.”

Also Friday, Boone said right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his second rehab start Sunday for Double-A Somerset. Cole, sidelined since mid-March because of nerve irritation and edema in his right elbow, made his first rehab start Tuesday for Somerset, allowing two singles and no runs across 3⅓ innings.

Boone said earlier this week that Cole would likely make at least two more minor league rehab starts (which would include Sunday), putting him on track for a possible return to New York’s rotation in mid-to-late June.

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